The second interview for my research project on Perceptions of Coaching in the UK Creative Industries was with film producer Ruth Kenley-Letts.
Ruth worked at BBC Drama before becoming an independent producer. Her film credits include Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1994), featuring a manic Richard E. Grant as Kafka with writer’s block, which won an Academy Award and a BAFTA; Strictly Sinatra (2001), for which she was nominated for the Carl Foreman BAFTA award; and Isolation, an atmospheric horror film set in rural Ireland, due for release in February 2007.
Ruth is currently filming The Margate Exodus, which will be a feature film as well as a day of live events in Margate on 30th September 2006. Commissioned by Artangel in association with Creative Partnerships, Arts Council England, Kent and Channel 4 Television, the film is being written and directed by Penny Woolcock and features the artwork of Antony Gormley.
Ruth kindly took a break from the filming to speak to me about the trials and tribulations of being a film producer, responsible for marshalling an army of actors and technical specialists to realise a writer/director’s vision. Anyone who thinks of the Creative Industries as a ‘touchy feely’ kind of business should listen to Ruth’s description of the military discipline of the film set. In many ways her description of the film industry – rigidly hierarchical, with the authoritarian figure of the director at the apex of the pyramid – flies in the face of received business wisdom about fostering creativity. Yet she also makes it clear that a range of people management styles are necessary, particularly in the way the producer and writer/director complement each other – the magic of the cinema has its spark in the magic of collaboration.
I’m recording more interviews for this series and will be posting them on the blog over the next few weeks…
Click the ‘AUDIO MP3’ icon below to hear the interview.